A FIXTURE adjustment saw the Vic Country and Vic Metro Under 17s face off once more, and it was the Country side which came out on top this time around – claiming a nine-point win in Bendigo. There were a few changes scattered across either side and plenty while the usual suspects continue to impress, others also put their hands up in representative colours. We run through some of the top performers in the latest edition of Scouting Notes, which are the opinion of the individual author.
#1 Jacob Konstanty (Gippsland Power)
9/11/2004 | 174cm | Small Forward
After a relatively quiet game in the previous fixture, Konstanty ended the game as Country’s leading goal kicker with three majors – all of which were different from the others, but all equally as exciting as he showed the ability to get goals through multiple avenues. The first goal came as he laid a strong tackle inside forward 50 and converted the shot on a slight angle. His second came as Country moved the ball quickly in transition, with Konstanty the only forward inside 50. He leaped up against two defenders and held the ball strongly above his head despite receiving contact, before slotting the goal from about 45 out. His third and final goal came from a long kick inside 50, where Konstanty managed to nudge his opponent off balance and beat the other defenders in a foot race for the loose ball, and dribbled it through. He had his opportunities to get more goals on the board, but chose to do the team first thing and pass it off to other teammates, even if he was in achievable positions.
#2 Jack O’Sullivan (Oakleigh Chargers)
22/10/2004 | 176cm | Forward/Inside Midfielder
Positioning more up forward than in the midfield, O’Sullivan played a great pressure forwards’ game. His attack on the ball and carrier in the forward half caused rushed disposals or turnovers from the Metro defenders, and quite often he laid some impressive tackles where he’d run in from seemingly nowhere to apply it. Showed some good leaping when he flew for the ball, taking a strong grab overhead early on where he took it at the highest point and followed up with a short kick inboard. He also showed an impressive sense of footy IQ in the second quarter where he got the ball from a teammate, running towards the boundary, then turned on a dime to hit a teammate inside 50 on the chest.
#5 Oliver Hollands (Murray Bushrangers)
16/01/2004 | 182cm | Balanced Midfielder
Continued on from the previous fixture to be one of the best midfielders across the game, with his balance around the contest being a particularly big part of Country’s ability to get the ball forward often. Played well around stoppages, getting his way in front of opponents regularly and putting himself in a spot to win the ball cleanly, but still able to win it when it was a 50-50 and then get a quick handball out to a runner. The fact he found it so easy to keep his hands free when being tackled by opponents made it easier for him to get effective hands out, with his Metro opponents seemingly unable to pin an arm at any time. When playing more of a receiver role through the midfield, his movement around the contests to get into a prime spot for the handball was good, with his follow up burst always catching opponents off guard, allowing him to get free in space and take his time delivering well weighted kicks to his teammates.
#6 Noah Long (Bendigo Pioneers)
23/08/2004 | 178cm | Inside Midfielder/Small Forward
Whilst Long wasn’t necessarily as prolific as he had been the previous week, at least to the eye, he still managed to have a big impact in the win, working hard to get handball receives on the outside to keep Country moving forward. Looked at his best early on in the contest where he continued to do the impressive work with his contested side of the game, and follow up clean handballs. A later move into a more forward role would limit his ball winning opportunities, but allowed him to show off some polish with his kicking that he was missing previously, proving that when in space he can execute some penetrative kicks. Showed good smarts and vision as well, with some switch kicks later in the game allowing Country to ultimately get further up the ground than if he had taken other options.
#7 Max Clohesy (Murray Bushrangers)
12/02/2004 | 179cm | Defender
Playing a watertight defensive game, Clohesy was a consistent hindrance to Metro’s scoring attempts as he worked hard to impact the play in the defensive 50, and followed up strongly in transition to provide an offensive threat as well. Set the tone early in the backline with his rebound kicking looking good up to the wings or down the line, and aggression in collecting loose balls meaning Metro had to hit targets or it would be coming straight back out. Showed some impressive balance in the second quarter where he won the ball at ground level and managed to get his way through a pack of three or four opponents, keeping his feet and coming out the other side to deliver long up the ground for a teammate to run onto. Was measured in his pressing from the backline, never being too far away from his opponent as to let them have the ball uncontested, but also in a spot where he could intercept a rushed Metro kick.
#8 Sam Frangalas (Dandenong Stingrays)
20/04/2005 | 186cm | Midfielder/Forward
After missing selection in the first fixture, Frangalas took no time at all to validate his selection in this game. A strong bodied midfielder, Frangalas excelled with his work below his knees, even when under direct pressure, cleanly picking the ball up off the ground with one grab consistently and following up with quick hands to runners when the option was there, or using his footwork to get around opponents. One moment like this saw Frangalas pick the ball up with pressure form behind, fake one way, then fake the other and go on the third time round, handball to a teammate, then get it back and kick long inside 50. His kicking was also solid despite some errors, especially over long distance as he weighted and placed the kick well for leading teammates.
#9 Cooper Vickery (Gippsland Power)
16/12/2004 | 180cm | Defender
Playing in a similar manner to fellow defender Clohesy, Vickery was a more ‘defend first’ type of player in his approach to the game, although he didn’t allow it to stunt his overall game, as he was still able to impact the play away from his opponent, pushing to create outnumbers and get the ball out long. He contested well aerially and was a reliable intercept option, taking some contested grabs in the defensive 50.
#11 Jhye Clark (Geelong Falcons)
23/07/2004 | 180cm | Inside Midfielder/Defender
Started the game looking like he may have a quieter one than the previous fixture, but worked into it as it went on to have a particularly strong second half. Just did his bread and butter stuff, which covers a lot of desirable traits, with his contested work standing out as he was again difficult to beat one-on-one at ground level, and even harder to bring down in tackles. Continually kept his arms free in congestion to fire off some extremely impressive handballs in close where he released runners into dangerous spots, with one moment in the third quarter catching the eye in particular, where he was being tackled by two opponents and had a third closing in, but he managed to hold his ground and get a handball out to a runner that kick-started a counter attack. His kicking was once again impressive for a player that’s almost always winning the footy in congestion, managing to get through traffic and hit targets laterally or leading at him, but he also chose the right options when in space or kicking from a mark. His marking looked improved from the previous fixture, flying high a few times and holding contested marks above his head, able to get on shoulders on a few occasions as well to get onlookers excited for more. Overall, Clark was arguably best on ground, with his defensive efforts resulting in a few promising Metro plays being stopped in their tracks in the final term.
#14 Jonti Schuback (Gippsland Power)
18/03/2004 | 183cm | Defender/Balanced Midfielder
Making an immediate and consistent impact on the contest, Schuback built on the previous game where he displayed class and composure with ball in hand through the defensive half, winning more of the ball and running through the midfield to show exciting glimpses of his potential. Was clean through traffic early on, finding himself involved in congested plays around the top of the defensive 50 and weaving through traffic to dispose of the ball to free teammates – often putting it in front of leading teammates to run onto, or popping a handball over the top for teammates in close to collect and continue moving forward. Took the majority of the early kick-ins where he was balanced with his decisions, kicking to shorter options when the long ones were covered, but running it out and kicking long when a teammate presented well. Held his marks well, even getting a pack mark on the wing early on in front of four or five opponents. Looked comfortable with his move to the midfield, adding a touch of extra class and composure with his ball use and positioning.
#18 George Stevens (GWV Rebels)
14/04/2005 | 190cm | Defender
Playing a similar role to the previous game, Stevens often found himself as one of the last lines of defence for Country. Where others may have struggled with this role, Stevens thrived with his reactions in transition vital to a few of his intercept marks in the defensive 50 to stop Metro attacks. Used the ball well by foot on his shorter options, not afraid to go through the corridor out of defensive 50, and make himself an option for a follow up kick out wide. Was strong with his tackling and ground level work as well, not being knocked off balance and staying in it until the ball was out of play.
#1 Nick Watson (Eastern Ranges)
24/02/2005 | 168cm | Small Forward
The Eastern Ranges livewire forward was active and exciting as ever in the forward half for Metro. Early on in the game, Watson was roving off packs well in the forwardline, hitting the drop zone with speed and quickly handing out when he won it. Flew for a mark on the goalline and held it well, but it was unfortunately called over the line for a behind. Kicked Metro’s first goal when he reacted well to a teammate moving out of congestion, getting separation on the lead, taking it on the chest and converting. Was present without being exceptional in the middle two quarters, getting a few nice touches and impressing with his kicking, but it was his final quarter that stood out the most, as he slotted three of his own goals to almost drag Metro to a victory. All three were good displays of his forward instinct, with the most impressive being his final one as he got it out the back of a pack on the goal line and got boot to ball before an opponent could.
#5 Kai Windsor (Eastern Ranges)
27/01/2004 | 178cm | Wing
Demonstrating his class and elusiveness with the ball, Windsor was a delight to see throughout the contest. Made the wing his own for a large chunk of the game, looking particularly damaging with his attacking plays by foot. Had a moment in the first quarter where he collected a ground ball running towards his defensive goals, gave it off via hand and got it back two times, then turned on a dime and hit a centring kick, showing his composure and elusiveness. Held his space well, highlighted best in the third quarter where he was on the opposite wing to a stoppage on the defensive 50 mark, was used by the clearance winner that placed the ball in front of him, where he collected it at full speed, took a couple of bounces and kicked long inside 50. Whilst he had his flashy plays and impressive kicks, a standout feature of Windsor’s game is his approach to ground balls under pressure, pushing opponents away with his hips to take the ball a little easier and burst away after collecting it.
#10 George Wardlaw (Oakleigh Chargers)
18/06/2004 | 181cm | Inside Midfielder
Wardlaw demonstrated his strength throughout the contest, regularly able to fend off opponents trying to bring him down, or stand up in tackles even when two opponents were hanging off him in an attempt to bring him down. Kept his hands free through congestion as well, letting him release to runners with his quick hands in tight. He won a lot of first possession around stoppages, positioning well to ensure there wasn’t any opposition between himself and the ball, giving him a clean run at it and quickly firing out hands. Was a strong tackler, particularly around stoppages, making it particularly difficult for the inside midfielders from Country to consistently get the ball out after winning first possession off ruck taps.
#13 Paul Pascu (Calder Cannons)
20/08/2004 | 183cm | Defender/Midfielder
Playing in a variety of roles, Pascu looked at his best when given an extended run through the rover role in the final term, where his attack on the footy from the rucks’ hands and in the contest was a big part in Metro’s late scoreboard surge. He was clean with the footy for most of the contest, not looking fazed by pressure or congestion around him to deliver well weighted kicks forward for his teammates to run onto without issue. Was defensively accountable throughout the game, with one particular tackle in the last quarter on the wing proving vital for a late goal, as he got a free kick for holding the ball.
#15 Luke Teal (Oakleigh Chargers)
20/05/2004 | 184cm | Defender/Balanced Midfielder
Starting the game in the defensive 50, Teal was particularly impressive with his contested marking, standing strong and holding the ball over his head multiple times. He drifted off his opponent to take intercept marks in front of packs early on in the game, and followed up with smart ball use by foot, often looking to switch the ball and get Metro taking up space. Moved into the midfield from the third quarter onwards where he had some nice moments with his disposal, with his handballing under pressure particularly impressive from stoppages – able to read the ball well off rucks hands and then quickly fire a handball of his own to the outside. Showed a lot of courage with his tendency to sit under the flight of the ball in an effort to mark it or receive a handball on the full, not flinching even with contact and then releasing the ball quickly.
#16 Elijah Tsatas (Oakleigh Chargers)
18/10/2004 | 184cm | Wing/Half-Back
Already looking like one of the top end prospects for 2022, Tsatas managed to have a major impact throughout the entirety of the contest despite being put into the backline at times, with his burst of speed particularly eye-catching and leading to some exciting plays. That same burst got him separation on the outside really quickly, making him a dangerous runner when given the handball from an inside ball winner, running it the distance before following up with a penetrative kick. His kicking was superb throughout the clash as well, regularly putting it to the advantage of his teammates, or pinpointing it straight to their chest when he could. On the rare occasion he found himself stuck in congestion or in the thick of the contest, his quick hands, and ability to keep them free, meant the ball didn’t get held up – even having a moment where he jumped to collect the ball mid air from a handball, and immediately fired it off to a teammate as he was tackled.
Image Credit: Morgan Hancock/AFL Photos